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Hiring a Contractor

An Extra-Snowy Winter is on the Horizon

By AttiCat Insulation, Certainteed Shingle Roof, Chimney Issues, Cost vs. Value, Cut Energy Costs, Gutter Guards, Hiring a Contractor, Insulation, Insulation Contractors, Roof Repair, Roofing Contractor, Roofing Services, Winterize, Winterize your home Annapolis No Comments

Are You and Your House Ready to Cope?

While sweater weather is in full swing, one reality remains: winter is right around the corner. And, as meteorologists far and wide have already announced, it’s going to be a cold one. Some chilly winter weather is in store for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, with January threatening to bring the coldest blast of air of the season—and the dip in temperature is predicted to result in about six inches of snowfall, or more, above normal.

Farmer’s Almanac also released a similar prediction for most of the country earlier this year in their annual 2018 winter outlook. The popular guide went as far to earmark certain dates for us to expect heavy rain and snowfall along the Atlantic Seaboard this winter season. According to the Almanac, make sure you have plenty of hot cocoa and a warm blanket on the following dates: January 20-23, February 4-7, February 16-19, March 1-3, and March 20-23.

What’s the takeaway? Enjoy the pretty leaves and relatively mild temperature for now, because before you know it—if the experts know what they’re talking about—you’ll be trading them in for a pair of gloves and a snow shovel.

Anything else you should worry about before the snow and freezing wind makes it your way? Unfortunately, extreme winter weather can do a real number on your home’s exterior. The last thing you want to have to worry about is a leaky roof or drafty window that sends your monthly electric bill through the roof and leaves you freezing, damp and miserable in the meantime.

Make sure you enjoy your snow days this year! If you haven’t had your roof and siding inspected by an expert, the trusted professionals at Fichtner Services can leave you assured that your home is ready to take on the winter onslaught. They’ll provide you with an affordable, reliable, and thorough inspection of your home’s exterior—plus they have the resources to take care of any issues or areas of concern they uncover.

Don’t get stuck behind the eight-ball—resolving these issues now will save you money and prevent the hassle and stress of trying to make unexpected, last-minute repairs in hazardous conditions. The experts at Fichtner Services can survey your roof to prevent devastating ice dams, inspect the foundation for small cracks or openings that can expand in freezing temps and allow mice and other pests to get in, and a laundry list of other essential winter-proofing steps that might have never crossed your mind but will be glad that the Fichtner team has double and triple checked for you.

Roof Repair or Roof Replacement – What to Consider

By Articles, Emergency Repair Service, Hiring a Contractor, Hurricane Damage, Roof Repair, Roof Repair vs Replacement, Roof Replacement, Roofing Contractor, Roofing Services

If you own a home, you know that ongoing maintenance is a reality in keeping your home in the best condition possible. Though many people don’t even think about their roof, it is one of the key components protecting your home from the elements. Ignoring your roof and the maintenance it requires can lead to huge problems down the road.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

A roof life expectancy varies based on the roofing materials used and quality of installation. Here are some average roof life expectancies:

  • Asphalt shingles: 15-40 years, based on shingle type
  • Metal roofs: 100 years or more
  • Slate roofs: up to 100 years or more
  • Cedar roofs: 30- 40 years

You Have a Roof Leak – Now What!

Perhaps you’ve noticed a water stain in the bathroom ceiling. How do you know whether the best course of action is a roof repair or roof replacement? There are several factors to consider:

Age of the roof: This is the most important clue when trying to determine roof repair vs. replacement. If your roof is close to its life expectancy, a roof replacement may be the best option.

Condition of the roof: If the asphalt shingles are curling, cracking, or missing, a roof replacement is probably the best decision. Longer lasting materials, such as slate roofs, cedar roofs and metal roofs, may simply require some maintenance.

Damage sustained to the roof: What type of damage did the roof sustain? How extensive is the damage? Roof repair vs. replacement depends upon the severity of the damage to the roof.

Installation techniques of current roof: Was the roof installed correctly to start with? Did the roofing contractor or installer follow code for the product and area you live in? If not, a roof replacement may be required to bring your home up to the best standards.

Didn’t I Just Have the Roof Repaired?

If you find yourself spending a lot of money on roof repairs and maintenance, it may make better economical sense to proceed with a roof replacement.

The best way to determine whether roof repair or roof replacement is right for you is to hire a trusted roofing contractor. Annapolis roofing contractor, Fichtner Services, offers expert advice and guidance for the best course of action to help you get the most for your money and longevity of your roof.

Roof Maintenance
Regardless of the roofing material, roof maintenance is always recommended every few years. Routine roof maintenance can increase the longevity of your roof and protect the inside from water penetration. Fichtner Services offers roof maintenance and roof inspection to find and repair damage. Common roof maintenance problems include cracked caulk around pipes and flashing, loose shingles and ridge vents, and cracked or broken collars around the plumbing pipes.

Free Maryland Roof Inspection

Annapolis based roofing contractor, Fichtner Services offers FREE roof evaluation and consultation for homeowner throughout the Annapolis Baltimore region. Call us at 866-591-1900 or schedule a consultation online.

Need a new roof? 5 Facts You Should Know About Hiring a Maryland Contractor

By Articles, Hiring a Contractor, Roofing Contractor, Roofing Contractor Annapolis, Siding Contractors

Hiring the right contractor to replace your roof or take care of any other major renovations to your home is a big decision. There are a lot of factors to consider beyond price. Chances are, you’ll always find someone who will do the work for less money, but what will it cost you in the end? Inferior craftsmanship, low quality customer service or worse…

An unlicensed contractor horror story
In Prince George’s County, a retired couple paid $20,000 to an unlicensed contractor to build an addition to the first floor of their home. During the winter, their roof collapsed because the contractor had removed a load bearing wall.

5 Facts You Should Know About Unlicensed Home Improvement Contractors

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation wants you to know why it is important to hire a licensed contractor. Here are the top 5 facts about unlicensed home improvement contractors from the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC):

  • It’s Illegal! In the State of Maryland, home improvement contractors, subcontractors and sales people must have an MHIC license.
  • Unlicensed contractors will drive a vehicle without a posted MHIC number or may use a fake number. Visit DLLR online to verify a contractors number.
  • An MHIC license can be revoked because of poor workmanship, failure to complete jobs, criminal activity or other violations. Some contractors may attempt to use an expired or revoked license, be sure to verify with the MHIC.
  • Elderly homeowners are especially vulnerable to unlicensed contractors. They love to pull “bait and switch” scams, quoting a low price and then demanding more money later.
  • Often times unlicensed contractors are from out of state, making it difficult to recover money or stolen items.

Hire a Maryland Contractor with Confidence

Fichtner Services is family-owned and operated serving Annapolis and beyond for more than 17 years. We have earned a reputation over the years as being one of the most trusted and reliable roofing companies in Maryland. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the damage that unlicensed contractors do. Fichtner Services has completed repair work for homeowners who have fallen victim to unlicensed contractors. These repairs are often more expensive than the original work would have been, not to mention the stress that homeowners have to deal with as a result of hiring an unlicensed contractor.

Don’t Be a Victim
Before you hire a roofing company in Annapolis or other home improvement contractor, do your homework. Here are some easy steps you can take to make sure you won’t be the next unlicensed contractor horror story:

  • Ask to see every contractor’s MHIC license and then check to make sure it is current. Check online or call DLLR 888-218-5925
  • Ask to see a copy of the contractor’s current general liability insurance certificate.
  • Ask for local references and follow up to find out if the work was on time, on budget and whether or not they would hire the contractor again. Read Fichtner Services Reviews
  • If the contractor has employees, ask to see copies of worker’s compensation insurance certificates. If they use subcontractors, ask to see those licences and make sure they are valid.

Call Fichtner Services For Your Exterior Home Improvement Needs

Whether you need a new roof, new siding, replacement windows or more, Fichtner Services is there for you. We are proud to be named “Best Roofing” company in Annapolis by the readers of The Capital for the second year in a row. We take pride in our reputation and the fact that 75% of our business is from repeat customers and referrals.

If you’re looking for a contractor for your home improvement project, contact us for a free quote. Call 888-785-7649 or request a quote online.

Emergency Services… After The Storm

By Emergency Repair Service, Hiring a Contractor, Hurricane Damage, Roof Repair, Roof Replacement, Roofing Contractor, Roofing Services, Siding Contractors, Uncategorized

The East Coast has been battered with severe storms over the last several years including deadly Super Storm Sandy that caused millions of dollars in damage to New York and New Jersey. While we were very lucky in Maryland not to suffer major widespread damage, we were not unaffected.

This winter is projected to have severe winter storms and snow. Last month, we offered tips on increasing your home’s energy efficiency. Now, we want to focus on the steps you should take after a weather emergency.

Storm Damage Home Hurricane Irene

Fichtner Services worked to repair this damaged home after last year’s Hurricane Irene

Steps to Take After the Storm

“First and foremost, make sure your home is safe for your family,” says Tom Fichtner of Fichtner Services. Many major storms can produce damage to a home that makes it unlivable. Fichtner Services offers prompt response for storm damage emergencies to assess your home’s condition and get started on the needed repairs so you can get back into your home as quickly as possible.

1. Report Damage To Insurance Company
Once your family is safe, the first step is to contact your insurance company and let them know you have storm damage. Keep detailed notes about your conversation. If you don’t know already, ask about your deductible and to be walked through the claims process.

2. Choose A Reputable Contractor
Choosing the right contractor is the next step and it should be someone you can trust. You want to find a contractor who is established, licensed and bonded. Ask to see certificates of insurance and insist on a clear, detailed estimate that lists the materials, cost and estimated start and completion dates.

One of the best ways to find a qualified contractor is to get a referral from family, friends and neighbors. You can also check out contractor ratings on Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.

Read what our customers say about us

3. Document Storm Damage
Be sure you make an inventory of damaged property and personal belongings. Take photographs of fallen trees and other damage for your records. Do not discard damaged property until after the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to review. Be present when your adjuster is inspecting damage to your home.

Fichtner Services Is Here For Emergency Service

Fichtner Services has been serving the Annapolis / Baltimore region for nearly 20 years, providing prompt and reliable service for businesses and homeowners. We are especially sensitive to the needs of individuals during an emergency or following a storm. We increase our response rates to these individuals to ensure the safety of their home and family.

If you suffered storm damage or experience emergency damage to your home, contact Fichtner Services at 888.785.7649 or schedule an appointment online.

The Insider’s Guide to Hiring a Contractor

By Hiring a Contractor, Insulation Contractors, Roofing Contractor

I was recently talking to a neighbor who was in the process of hiring a contractor to remodel her kitchen.  She didn’t really know where to start or what to look for in a good, honest, reliable contractor.

This made me realize that many people who are not working daily in the construction industry are probably in the same boat as my neighbor. Hiring a contractor who is going to complete your project on time, on budget and to your expectations takes some diligent  homework on the part of the property owner.

First, you need to narrow down the field by asking friends, relatives and neighbors for some references for contractors with whom they have had good experiences with similar projects. Most people already know someone in the construction industry, whether it be an architect, a builder, or a different kind of tradesman, who could most certainly give you the name of someone who has a good reputation.

You can also ask area material suppliers and your local Better Business Bureau and the MHIC (Maryland Home Improvement Commission) to see if the referred contractors are reputable and financially solvent (lessening the likelihood of leaving you with a half- finished job or skipping town after you give them your deposit!).

Other referral websites, such as Angie’s List, have paying members that post reviews based on their experiences with local contractors.

Second, find out as much information on the project that you are doing. Most of this information is at your disposal right on the internet. What are the differences in materials that could be used and why is one more expensive? What are the common methods for installing the materials? What are the best choices for my lifestyle?

Next, once you have chosen at least 3 contractors from whom to solicit bids, you must ask these questions:

  • Do you have General Liability and Worker’s Compensation Insurance and can you provide me a certificate?  If something happens on the job, either to your property or to one of the workers, YOU could be left with a large claim on your homeowners insurance!
  • Do you have an MHIC license?  Homeowners can make sure at the MHIC website. If a contractor has an MHIC license they are required by law to have General Liability and Worker’s Compensation Insurance and be in good standing with regard to paying their taxes.
  • Can I have several references for the type of work that you will be doing for me?  Do you have any photos of completed projects?
  • Are you a member of your trade’s professional organization?  This shows that they are genuinely interested in the field and usually will be doing some kind of continuing education.
  • Will you be pulling permits for my job? Permits cannot be pulled by an unlicensed contractor.
  • When will you start and how long will it take?  Are there any variables that could change this schedule?
  • What happens if I have a problem with the job after it is completed?  Do you have a service department that will follow up on any issues we may have?
  • What kind of warranty do you offer on the project?

Once you have asked these important questions, you will need to follow up on that information:

  • Get everything in writing to include pay schedule, color, material choices, and warranty information on a legal contract that states the company’s name which matches their MHIC number .
  • Call and/or go visit the supplied references.  Also, go to the material supplier’s showroom and checkout the materials being used.
  • Check into the contractors’ reputations at the BBB (www.bbb.org) and the MHIC.
  • Are the bids from each of the companies comparing apples to apples?   Are the same materials being used?  Is one way lower than the others?   If so, you need to find out why (refer to the questions above).  Be careful when it comes to pricing- the most expensive is not always better.
  • Maryland law states that a home improvement company cannot ask for more than 1/3 deposit upon signing of the contract.
  • Has the contractor been responsive to your phone calls and emails?  If not, it could be a sign of the way your job would be handled.

Once you have done your research and have asked all of the questions it’s time to choose the contractor who best suits your needs.

Hopefully by doing your homework you will have a finished project that will exceed your expectations!  Good Luck!